Noisy Deadlines

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”– D. Adams
@Fedi

I’ve always had some dietary restrictions after I found out I was lactose intolerant years ago. It turned out I had acid reflux without even realizing it at the time. Some symptoms can be very similar to a cold (irritated throat, nose dripping, coughing), and after some exams I found out I had lactose intolerance, a hiatal hernia and acid reflux as a consequence.

That diagnosis made me change my diet and I started taking stomach medication: proton pump inhibitors (PPI). After a few years I got better and I tried to stop the medication on a daily basis, and only taking it if I knew I was having a meal that were outside my dietary restrictions. It worked for a while.

By that time I stopped consuming:

  • Coffee
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Soda
  • Alcohol
  • All carbonated beverages

Then life happened, I’d start eating something that would trigger my symptoms again, and I was back and forth with prescribed medication, over the counter antacids and diet changes to feel better.

A couple of years ago I tried a restrictive diet called “Fast Tract Diet” which seemed to work well for the symptoms, but I had cravings and in the end the diet was not sustainable to me. It was very similar to a keto diet, but with even more restrictions about starchy foods and carbs.

Anyway, I slacked off recently. I thought I was doing okay, I started consuming more tea, I felt that my lactose intolerance was not that bad anymore so I added cream in every cup of tea I had. I was eating more chocolate and more processed meats (like ham and sausages).

So for a few months I felt symptoms coming back, specially my throat being sore, my nose dripping with no apparent reason and dry coughs EVERY DAY. And also, bloating and indigestion. That was a huge red flag that I should have noticed earlier but I thought it was seasonal pollen allergy or something.

My 28 day restriction phase

I’m starting a diet that focuses on replacing high-acid foods with low-acid foods and eliminating trigger foods (Reference: The Acid Watcher Diet by Jonathan Aviv, MD, FACS.)

It’s a less restrictive diet for me, because it allows fruits and nuts and even small portions of whole wheat bread.

I already don’t consume: alcohol, coffee, carbonated beverages, vinegar and soda. Those are already off limits for me for some time now. And I don’t miss them at all.

Now, for 28 days I WON’T consume any of the following:

  • Tea (I will allow some herbal teas only)
  • Tomato, tomato sauce
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Bell peppers
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits: lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, pineapple
  • Processed foods / processed meats
  • Milk (I will replace it with Almond milk)

And I will consume fruits and vegetables with pH higher than 5.

I will work on a complete meal plan for the next weeks and see how it goes.

After the 28 days phase I will evaluate my symptoms, check how I feel and I will slowly reintroduce some foods I one at a time and see if they are triggers. If they are, I know I have to continue avoiding them.

#journal #diet #health

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

It’s summer, so I focused on some light reads that were on my TBR pile. The Starlight's Shadow series was my favorite. I was a bit disappointed with “A Discovery of Witches” and “Architects of Memory”. And “Strange Love” was not exactly what I expected, but at least it had some originality.

  1. A Discovery of Witches (All Souls #1) by Deborah Harkness, 579p: It started well, but then it seemed the story dragged on and on and on... I liked the yoga class with witches, vampires, and demons. There was a lot of world-building info dump that threw me off the plot. Some characters are vampires who lived for centuries, so there was too much background story delivered all at once. I can see it was well researched, mentioning old editions of Bibles, the works of Galileo, Isaac Newton and Darwin, for example. The writing just didn't flow well for me, I wasn't invested enough in the characters to want to follow them through the next two books.

  2. Architects of Memory (The Memory War #1) by Karen Osborne, 336p: It started okay but then some ideas felt underdeveloped and it was not clear how the alien technology worked and what was really going on with the characters' hallucinations. The writing style didn't attract me too much and I thought there was the overuse of metaphors to describe things. I was confused by some terms used to name objects, sometimes I found there was not enough context to understand what that object was. The ending was very abrupt and to be honest, I still quite didn't get it. I don't feel compelled to continue reading the next book.

  3. Hunt the Stars (Starlight's Shadow #1) by Jessie Mihalik, 419p: Romancy sci-fi (enemies to lovers trope) with nice world-building and engaging characters: a perfect summer read. Humans and Valoffs (old-time enemies) managing to work together in a spaceship, sharing meals, watching TV series, cooking, cleaning and trying to be nice to each other. Valoffs are human-like aliens with telepathy and telekinesis powers. Truly enjoyed the ride, and I jumped to the next book of the series right away.

  4. Eclipse the Moon (Starlight's Shadow #2) by Jessie Mihalik, 440p: The story continues with a different POV, focusing on the hacker Kee and the weapons specialist Varro, who is super powerful. They are on an espionage mission on a space station, so lots of hacking security cameras and stealth are happening. I had fun, another light summer read.

  5. Strange Love (Galactic Love #1) by Ann Aguirre, 306p: “Strange” is the best word to describe this book. It’s light in tone, there’s a talking dog, and the male character is gentle and kind with none of the possessive alpha male behavior common to the alien-in-search-of-a-mate romance trope. The plot revolves around this alien competition or contest (“The Hunger Games” style), in which people participate to win the right to mate in this alien world. A human female is accidentally “abducted” from Earth and ends up on a different planet where this contest is starting. Warning: sexy times were a lit bit cringy because the alien had totally different anatomy, so, yeah, very weird.

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

After I re-read the book “Making it all Work” by David Allen last year I started to think more about the Higher Horizons.

Basically, in the GTD framework, we can have different levels of control over what we are doing. They are called Horizons of Focus.

In summary, they are:

  • Ground: Calendar/actions
  • Horizon 1: Projects
  • Horizon 2: Areas of focus and accountability
  • Horizon 3: One to two-year goals and objectives
  • Horizon 4: Three-to five-year vision
  • Horizon 5: Purpose and principles

You can read the full definitions here.

The Ground level is what is going on right now, right in front of us: meetings and appointments we have on our calendar and our next actions.

Horizon 1 represents our Projects, the things we want to accomplish that will require more than one action. A project requires various next actions until it can be completed. It can be short: completing 3 next actions renders the project complete in a week, or long: multiple next actions that complete the project within a year or so.

So usually a Task Manager and a Calendar app will cover the Ground and Horizon 1 Levels.

Horizons 2 to 5 are what I'm calling the Higher Horizons here. It works as a framework to align all of our actions and projects with our larger goals.

There are many ways to build this framework and the choices are highly personal. Some people like to have mind maps, connected notes, bullet point lists, outliner apps, or a combination of those.

I decided to create a spreadsheet where I could organize this information in one place. And also, I wanted it to be useful for my planning routines. So what I did was a blend of planning and higher horizons perspectives.

I'll try to explain how I set it up below.


My GTD Dashboard 🚩

I set up an Excel spreadsheet to help me organize the “Higher Horizons”. But I also added some planning tabs that help me link the higher horizons with my planning process. I keep one file per year.

I have the following tabs:

In summary, the tabs contain:

  • My GTD System: an overview of my tools and routines with some links.

  • YEAR PLANNING: high-level planning I do every December to think about the incoming year.
  • MONTHLY PLANNING: Divided into quarters, it's an overview of my plans for the incoming month/quarter.
  • HORIZON 01 – PROJECTS: A projects log list.
  • HORIZON 02 – AREAS OF FOCUS: a summary of my areas of focus and the distribution of projects. The detailed information about each of the areas is kept in a separate mind map file.
  • HORIZONS 03-04 : Goals and Vision: I fill this out at the beginning of the year when I reflect on each area of focus and decide what I want to focus on next.
  • END OF YEAR REVIEW: a checklist for a reflection exercise and ideas for the next year.

For Horizon 05: Purpose and principles, I actually have a text document, that can be accessed from a link I added to the spreadsheet in the “My GTD System” tab.

I also have a link to another text document called “Big Picture”. As part of my end-of-the-month review, I do a write-up with the highlights of the month. This is a Word document and is not part of the spreadsheet.

Read more...

  1. Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files # 8) by Jim Butcher, 496p: We get to know a lot more about Molly, Charity, and Murphy, who are all strong and bad-ass female characters and are given more space in this book. I thought this one was a little bit more self-contained with less overwhelming magic battles, and more character development, which was good. And Dresden apparently gets an apprentice, cool!

  2. Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention- and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari, 368p: There is so much information in this book! The author explores various sides of the topics covered, citing scientific research and interviews. Some topics discussed: the importance of mind wandering, how slowness and mindfulness activities nurture attention, that reading a book is the simplest form of experiencing the flow state, and how the Internet is training us to read information by skipping and jumping from one thing to another, instead of reading in a linear and focused fashion. He also covers some of the debates and controversies around the increase in ADHD diagnoses, what is going on with social media, the importance of sleep, the idea of perpetual economic growth and how it affects our worldview, and some ideas on why we can't focus enough on the climate crisis challenges today. Excellent read, it doesn't try to find a single magical solution. Our ability to focus is complex and it is entangled with technology, mental health, our environment, our economy and our culture.

  3. The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, 224p [RE-READ]

  4. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, 356p: I didn't know I liked contemporary romcom novels about women in STEM and academia, and yeap, I do! This was fun and light-hearted! Just what I needed to get out of a sudden book slump at the end of the month. I empathized with the characters, their academic struggles, and their self-doubts. The romance was adorable, I just wanted a happy ending for all the characters!

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Yes, I have a confession to make: I went back to Nirvana. Again. After spending time customizing MS To Do, being excited about colorful emojis, backgrounds and all sorts of integrations with Outlook… I went back to the good old Nirvana.

I probably said it before, but Nirvana is still the best GTD implementation for me. It's simple and elegant. I like it because it allows me to have neatly well organized GTD lists. It is the only app that gives me a clear and straightforward view of all my commitments. And you might wonder why is that important?

Well, I worry a lot about things. My mind is constantly thinking, re-thinking and planning. One of the things that attracted me to GTD was the idea of “unloading” my thoughts, stepping back and making sense of them. But all those unloaded things need to be processed, and for my mind to be at ease, they need to be in an organized trusted place. So, Nirvana is the best digital tool to take care of all that stuff.

“You can only feel comfortable about what you're not doing when you know what you're not doing.” — David Allen, Brandon Hall. The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity, 2019.

Maybe it’s because Nirvana has a more fixed structure, things are either in:

  • Inbox
  • Next
  • Later
  • Waiting
  • Scheduled
  • Someday
  • Reference

And that’s it. My brain enjoys having these well-defined buckets. And also because Nirvana allows a bird’s eye view of everything, distributed in all those buckets, or views filtered by Personal or Work areas because of the global filters. I have better control of projects states, so if a project becomes inactive, it’s easy to drag and drop it to the “Later” or “Someday” folder and all its next actions will be inactivated as well. No need to go back to the contexts list and move inactivated actions individually (something I would have to go through in MS To Do).

I liked my setup on MS To Do. I think it might work for a lot of people. But there were some details that bothered me:

  • NOT having ONE Inbox to rule them all. I was using two accounts, one for personal and one for work, so I ended up with 2 inboxes (that is not an issue if you use one account for everything). The process of having a thought, recognizing it as something to be captured and then having to decide in which instance I was going to capture it created some friction to my capturing. I tend to capture a lot while I’m on my computer, and I would pause to switch accounts and get distracted. I kept remembering how ubiquitous and easy it was to add something to the unified Nirvana Inbox with a keyboard shortcut. And also, how Nirvana syncs between my personal and phone mobiles, so no friction at all.
  • Not having the Projects linked to Next Actions. Yeah, I tried to let go of it linking next actions to projects”). And it turns out my preference is to have everything linked. I’ve heard it is a cognitive preference, some people are okay with having things separated, and some people don’t. I’ve tested it for real, so now I know. Linking actions to projects is a must for me.
  • The hashtags drop-down selection only appears when adding a new task. So, I was using hashtags to identify projects keywords. When creating a new task in MS To Do I could type “#” and a list of hashtags terms already used would appear. But if I have already captured something and I was processing it to add a hashtag later, the drop-down menu wouldn’t show up and I ended up creating variations of the existing hashtag because I didn’t remember exactly the word I used. It’s a minor detail, but when you start having too many projects, this can be an encumbrance. Of course, this problem is avoidable if you’re not worried about linking next actions to projects, which is NOT my case (see the previous item).

It’s a journey…

I feel comfortable now with my decision. I was triggered to experiment MS To Do because of a change in my work (which recently shifted everything to Microsoft). So I used MS To Do for about a month and realized it was not exactly all that I expected. I still think it’s a great app.

And that’s okay. I know I will change my system based on my experience level, current needs, and changes in the available tools. And Nirvana still works for me, so I’ll stick with it a little bit more!

#GTD #productivity #Nirvana #apps

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

One thing I’m learning is that it is OKAY to stop reading a book. I can just abandon it and move on with no guilty feelings.

I did just that today. I usually try my best to finish a book even when I’m not enjoying it too much because I have hope it will get better eventually or I’ll learn something by the end of it. A book can have ups and downs and that’s okay.

I’m finding that if after reading 20-30% of the book and it is not grabbing me, it’s time to let go. I’ve always found it hard to give up on a book, after all, I’ve invested hours into it, and giving up seems weak.

Now I have more awareness of the signs showing me it’s time to let go:

  • I’m not reaching for the book at every given opportunity. When I’m into a book, I’ll read it during lunch break, breakfast, before bed, while waiting in line, or during any downtime when I’m not working. If reading the book feels like a chore, then it’s best to let go.
  • I can’t relate to the characters and their motivations. I like to have enjoyable characters, even if they are villains. This is subjective. Sometimes I don’t care about the main character because of “reasons”. It’s like a gut instinct, if they don’t click with me, I’m not engaged.
  • I’m not enjoying the tone/theme. I’m getting more sensitive about some themes in fiction. Too much gore and violence can throw me off. Some trigger warnings for me: child abuse, gore, body horror, sexism, racism, and physical abuse.
  • I give the book a chance (read at least 20-30%) and I feel it’s not the right time to read it. If after a few chapters I still do not feel like I’m in the right place emotionally or mentally to finish it, it’s time to stop reading it.

The book in question today is Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. I read 20% of it, roughly 8 chapters in total. It is a pick for my local Book Club and I’ve heard great things about it. It is a fantasy set in an alt pre-Columbian American world with magic and old prophecies. The setting is dark from what I could gather and the very first chapter threw me off with a brutal scene involving a child. I couldn’t get past that. Later on, we are introduced to a great character, a strong female ship captain whom I loved! But the story is told from 4 different characters’ viewpoints, and I didn’t enjoy the other three POVs.

Anyway, it’s time to move on. Maybe I’ll pick it up later, but there are so many other books I want to read that I’ve decided to put Black Sun on the back burner. Deep inside I still feel bad about it, it’s one of those situations where “I wanted to have enjoyed it”. Well, I’m sorry, it didn’t work out this time.

In Bookwyrm there’s a shelf for “Stopped Reading” and I added a comment so that in the future I know why I stopped reading it.

#reading #books #journal

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

After several false starts the company I work for is finally migrating to Microsoft 🥳. No more sync issues between Google Calendar and Outlook for me (yay!).

I remember taking a quick look at Microsoft To Do last year and liked its simplicity, but because I only had one account I thought it was cumbersome to deal with personal and work stuff all together in one app. One of the reasons I liked Nirvana was the global area filter, so I could switch from personal to work mode, and keep a minimal number of context tags that were shared between personal/work .

Now I have 2 Microsoft accounts so things can be organized separatedly. I can switch from one to the other using the Microsoft To Do desktop app, both on my personal and work computers. I also have 2 mobile phones, one linked to my personal account and the other linked to my work account.

The 2 setups are similar, I’ll get into more detail about my personal one.

Read more...

It was great to hang out with Write.as folks on the Remark.as chat yesterday. Thanks to tmo for coming up with the idea in the first place and Matt for providing this space and looking to improve it even more!

I felt completely exhausted Saturday evening and that’s probably because of my mid-week work trip. I can think of at least 3 reasons. First: 6 hours train ride each way. Second: change of routine, I slept way less than I’m used to for 3 days and I didn’t do my daily morning yoga. Third: I didn’t walk or run or did any exercise, it screw up my energy levels. So, I guess I was sleep-deprived after the trip.

Also, this weekend was “Doors Open Ottawa”, when buildings open up their doors for visitors. I saw that a big research center near my home was open for visits, so that’s where I decided to go (CanmetENERGY). It’s located in the middle of the Green Belt, so I could get there through the hiking trails around my area. It was a nice day and a nice walk. This research center has cool stuff going on in terms of Sustainable Energy, Solar Power, Bio-energy, Heating/Cooling Efficiency for buildings, etc. And the buildings are federal heritage, built in the 60s in what is called Brutalist architecture, all concrete and steel. That was nice!

After that, I was exhausted and today I slept for 9+ hours, trying to catch up. I felt better, spent the day doing chores around the house, read books, and went for a run in the evening.

#journal

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I’m going on a 2-day work trip today. It seems like it’s been ages since I last travelled somewhere. It will be a 6 hours train ride, which is nice because I love trains. And we are still required to wear masks inside the train and while we are inside the train station, which is good. I was a little nervous about being in a closed space with unmasked people for 6 hours. But that’s not gonna be the case, so I’m okay.

I did a travel checklist to make sure I got everything I need and I still think I might be forgetting something. I used to be good at travelling, knowing exactly what to bring with me. I’m out of practice now. So, I’ll see if my check list is any good!

I’m actually looking forward to the train ride. Train travel is comfortable and spacious. I love sitting back and enjoying the scenery. Also, it will great to get some reading done 😎. I’ve got my ebooks loaded in my Kobo. I’m planning on reading these books next:

  • Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention-and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari (currently reading)
  • Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8) by Jim Butcher
  • Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed by Ben R. Rich
  • Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

#journal #travel

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. A big ship at the edge of the universe (The Salvagers #1) by Alex White, 473p: It is fantasy in a sci-fi setting which I found was unusual and cool. I liked the diverse group of characters in a “found-family” kind of setting. I missed having more information about the villains, they seemed underdeveloped. Some action scenes where magic, space battles, or spacewalking were being described seemed a bit confusing to me, it was hard to understand exactly what was going on. It is a light read, with lots of action scenes and I tried not to overthink the magic to enjoy it. I don't think I will continue reading the series, but the book builds nicely for the sequel without ending in a cliffhanger.

  2. The Air War (Shadows of the Apt #8) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 646p: This book escalated way more than I thought it would. I don't know why I wasn't expecting so much war in a book with “war” in the title. So, it's heartbreaking while both the Wasps and the Beetles are developing new weapon technologies. It focuses on the development of fixed wings airplane fighters and a more efficient way to drop bombs from them. The parallels with the Second World War are inevitable. Taki, the Fly-kinden pilot shines on this one. This series continues to be very entertaining.

  3. Exhalation by Ted Chiang, 352p: I don't usually read short stories but this one was recommended to me. Maybe I had too high expectations? Anyway, I enjoyed the first stories “The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate”, “Exhalation” and the “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” and “Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny”. But I had a hard time engaging with all the other stories. I didn't find the ideas that interesting and for the most part, I didn't care at all about the characters/narrator of the story. Most of the stories were disturbingly weird to me. I was a little bit disappointed overall.

  4. Selfish, shallow, and self-absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids by Meghan Daum and others, 288p: It was nice to read thoughts on the topic from people of various ages and sexual preferences, males and females. I find it’s hard to have an open conversation about this topic nowadays. The essays are very personal and honest bringing diverse perspectives. I'm glad these voices are out there debunking the prejudice that childless people (especially women) are selfish or that there is something wrong with them. Being a woman who decided at an early age to not pursue motherhood, this was a refreshing read for me.

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.